February 26, 2013

RADS

This past Friday, I had my final simulation for a Rape & Aggression Defense Systems class I’ve been taking at Biola… easily the most anxiety-inducing thing I’ve ever had to do for a class. Each of us girls in the class was led into a room alone with our eyes closed while 7 men (RADS experts that come in for the day) jeered at cackled at us. We were allowed to open our eyes and start fighting when we felt the first person attack us… and let me tell you, waiting for that first move was AWFUL. When I went, my first guy bear-hugged me from behind and pulled me to the floor with him, which happens to be the only move we didn’t practice in class. But I head-butted him a few times (we were both wearing padding) and it was all a blur from there. I think I only had to face two more men after that, and I mostly knee-ed them in the groin. My teacher (also the Campus Safety chief at Biola) was waiting at the door to give me a high-5, and I vaguely remember barreling into him a little too enthusiastically.

Even though it was terrifying and I’d been having stress-dreams about it for days beforehand, it was very, as they say, “empowering.” None of us girls wanted to go into that room, but we were all so glad that we did. The whole experience fits weirdly into my Rookie project (I am continuing my piece into this semester as my Torrey Senior Thesis), because it was one of those rare moments where I was extremely aware of, and proud of, my female-ness.

Also, all the days I spent watching Alias over interterm finally paid off…I just pretended I was Sidnay Bristow, and that made screaming “No!” over and over at the top of my lungs seem way cooler. Plus, for real, some of the moves we did I definitely recognize from the show.

Which brings me to the other topic of this post…I gave up TV for Lent. And life is worse without TV. TV is my primary de-stresser, one of the only times where I feel like I can actually STOP THINKING (which also means I watch it to fall asleep each night), and I MISS TV. I especially missed it the night before my RADS simulation.

But missing is okay—actually, it’s good, I think, for the purposes of Lent. I feel far from understanding Lent, but one helpful thing my priest said about giving up good things for a season is this: “We are only free to enjoy things from which we are also free to abstain; fasting develops the ability to say no and, thus, the ability to say yes in the right way.”

And here is one thing I am learning: saying no is empowering! Kind of like learning how to best defend yourself is empowering! I promise I am not making that connection just to make this blog post coherent…Maybe I just have too much time to think these days…

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23

February 18, 2013

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I turned 23 at In-N-Out, and I think that means this next year will be wonderful.

I was with some of my housemates, on our way home from seeing Christian play in a REAL LIVE SHOW, with tickets and lights and a big audience (including Queen Latifah!). This show was one of Cayucas’ (the band C. plays guitar in) last on a West Coast Tour with Ra Ra Riot. It was fun to see him on stage, and even more fun to see strangers dancing to the songs I have had stuck in my head for months now. He also exaggeratedly blew me a kiss after their last song, which killed me in more ways than one.

The day of my birthday happened to be the one day of the week Christian was in town and not playing a show, so we decided to go on an all-afternoon drive. We followed Mullholland Highway through the Santa Monica mountains, and down to Malibu beach. We stopped a lot along the way to take pictures or climb hills, and it was dreamy.

Somewhere in the mountains Christian asked me what I hoped for for my 23rd year, and I told him I hope for another year of living slowly and being present where I am. I am starting to feel the rush of the future in a lot of ways…people asking me things like when Christian & I are going to get married, or what kind of career I want to have. And even though those are sometimes good questions to ask, I don’t feel like I have enough room in me to be a great student and a great housemate and a great girlfriend if I am day-dreaming about what I might be next.

I worry that people might see me as apathetic, or that my five-years-later self will want to come back and bonk current me upside the head, but those worries feel manageable right now. And worth it too, to stay in this place where I feel like I have room to grow braver and wiser and more loving, I hope.

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February 13, 2013

The three-ish weeks I have spent back in California and back in class have felt like months. My days have been long, but in the best way, This wintertime shift back into LA weather feels more dramatic than the others…some days I feel like I am cheating at life by being in a place so sunny (which in turn makes me feel weirdly irresponsible).

Classes are in full swing, and I am leading a session on Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals next week. I have tried to write about him in preparation for session, but I decided a few days ago that my time might be better spent talking to my teachers about him and asking asking asking questions. This semester is already stretching me in good ways…we are reading a lot of smart, smart men who present smart, smart reasons why faith is foolish. I thought this was going to be really draining (mostly because I don’t really like “defending” my faith), but with reading these books also comes a strange sense of relief. I have heard these names thrown around for years—Darwin, Marx, Nietzsche, Freud—but I haven’t actually read them myself (well, bits and pieces). It feels so good to finally confront them. Not confront as in “imma prove you wrong” but confront as in, well, actually listen to and grapple with, and let myself be threatened by.

But opening up enough to let myself feel threatened can be hard, and that’s where the California sunshine really really helps. Also, going on adventures. And pictures of my new niece Ainsley. And my roommate letting me bejewel her face.

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